Thursday, November 30, 2017

Military Capability and Aircraft Carrier Vulnerability

The bottom line on aircraft carrier survivability is that only a handful of countries can credibly pose a threat to America's most valuable warships, and short of using nuclear weapons none of those is likely to sink one....
The National Interest
Are U.S. Aircraft Carriers Nearly Unsinkable?
Loren B. Thompson | Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

See also

The National Interest
The Navy Is Obsessed with Big Aircraft Carriers (But There Could Be Another Option)
Kyle Mizokami, cofounder of the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. is a defense and national-security writer has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast.

On the other hand,
Those who continue to defend the aircraft carrier have an obvious solution: missile defenses can stop any incoming attacks and keep the carrier relevant for decades. That seems like a reasonable argument, except for one very basic problem: first-grade math tells us it’s flat-out wrong. As I have said on several occasions, U.S. naval planners in the future will face large missile forces aimed at their ships that could very well overwhelm their missile defense platforms....
Taking the above example to its logical extreme, could China, Russia, Iran, or even one day North Korea simply build enough missiles on the cheap and launch them close enough to exhaust the defenses of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group? Considering that we are currently unable to reload such defenses with ease at sea, our forces would face an unpleasant choice if their missile interceptors were exhausted: withdraw or face down enemy missiles with no defenses…. 
The American Conservative
Face It, The Mighty U.S. Aircraft Carrier is Finished
Harry J. Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest and executive editor of its publishing arm, The National Interest. Previously, he served as editor of The Diplomat, a fellow at CSIS, and on the 2016 Ted Cruz foreign policy team.

See also
A new generation of Russian and Chinese-built long-range air-to-air missiles could threaten the critical nodes that enable U.S. air operations. Those nodes include the AWACS, various intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, aerial refueling tankers and electronic attack aircraft.
While often overlooked in favor of advanced anti-ship and surface-to-air missile systems when examining Russian and Chinese anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities, such long-range air intercept weapons—coupled with the right fighter—could cut the sinews that allow the United States to conduct sustained air operations in both the Asia-Pacific and the European theatres. Essentially, Russians and/or Chinese forces could pair long-range air-to-air missiles with aircraft like the Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound, Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA and the Chengdu J-20 to attack American AWACS, JTARS and aerial refueling tankers like the Boeing KC-135 or forthcoming KC-46 Pegasus. Especially over the vast reaches of the Pacific where airfields are few and far between, lumbering aerial refueling tankers could be an Achilles’ Heel that Beijing could chose to exploit.... 
The National Interest
The Real Story of How Russia or China Could Defeat America in an Air War
Dave Majumdar, defense editor for the National Interest

See also
The United States has poured ten of billions of dollars into developing fifth-generation stealth fighters such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. However, relatively simple signal processing enhancements, combined with a missile with a large warhead and its own terminal guidance system, could potentially allow low-frequency radars and such weapons systems to target and fire on the latest generation U.S. aircraft.... 
It is a well-known fact within Pentagon and industry circles that low-frequency radars operating in the VHF and UHF bands can detect and track low-observable aircraft. It has generally been held that such radars can’t guide a missile onto a target—i.e. generate a “weapons quality” track. But that is not exactly correct—there are ways to get around the problem according to some experts....
Dave Majumdar, the defense editor for the National Interest

For example, this Chinese article argues that JH-7ss using a combination of YJ-91 anti-radar missiles and electronic warfare would pose a “nightmare” for Aegis-equipped ships. Of course, using radar jamming alone is not an automatic “win button” against air defenses. However, jamming does degrade their effective radar detection and targeting ranges, making a swarm of attacking missiles or aircraft more likely to overwhelm the defenses.
The National Interest
China's New J-16D Aircraft Might Have a Terrifying New Military Capability
Sébastien Roblin

Also of interest
It’s important to note early that the EMP threat has become an unlikely live wire. Its most extreme proponents genuinely fear near-total annihilation; its vocal detractors dismiss the threat as science fiction.

In between, though, lie some important subtleties. Crucially, you won’t find much disagreement on the very basic science.
Shouldn't the precautionary principle apply?

North Korea's Plenty Scary Without An Overhyped EMP Threat


Kaivey said...

They say if you want peace prepare for war, what a world, hey?

People seem to like voting for tough rulers who then go on to make life miserable for everyone.

Tom Hickey said...

People seem to like voting for tough rulers who then go on to make life miserable for everyone.

When fear rises collectively, people look to "strong leadership" to protect them.

Matt Franko said...

If somebody sunk a carrier today I’d expect we would kill everyone there in response...

Tom Hickey said...

Like that would be the end of it? It would just be the beginning, and all strategist know this.

The situation is resembling the lead up to WWI with DJT playing the role of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Only those that read history are now aware of the sea of blood that drenched Europe then.

Now there would not be blood but radioactive ash.

Noah Way said...

The war profiteers 'win' if they keep arming everyone to the teeth by exacerbating tensions and cresting conflicts.

They lose if it goes nuclear.

Somehow they don't see that one leads to the other. Especially when the big bully gets a bloody nose and loses what little grip he may have.

Tom Hickey said...

With some, it is not just the $. They seem obsessed with expensive technology. It's a fetish.

Matt Franko said...

“They seem obsessed with expensive technology”

It’s in our DNA:

“Inventors of evil things....” Rom 1:30

Noah Way said...

A fetish for money. New tech is costly, lots of profit generated. I know a guy who went from movie special effects to DoD contracts. He's selling Star Wars style holographic battle information centers. All the generals want one.

In the end it's still just a special effect, albeit a very expensive one. Especially when you consider that it decreases performance by creating a multitude of illusions. For more on the gold rush read Imaginary Weapons by Sharon Weinberger.